Why Did God Trust YOU with This Horrible Experience?

Image As a child, I remember watching” Alive” with my family. This movie is based on a 70’s plane crash survivor story known as “Miracle in the Andes”. Being so young, the only things that stuck out to me were the mountains, the cold temperatures, the plane crash, and the cannibalism the survivors had to do to survive for weeks without food. But there was so much more to the story.

I just finished watching the movie some days ago as a 27 year old, spirit-filled adult. And the movie was so much richer than I’m sure even the director intended. God blessed me to open my eyes to the wonderful insights and rich revelations one could glean from that movie.

The movie starts out with a man sucking on a cigarette saying that he was given a glimpse to another aspect of God. For the longest, he was introduced to the God that lets wonderful things happen to us and our loved ones. The God who protects us from harm and danger. The God who shields us from frightening experiences and events. But he said that for those 71 days they were stranded on that glacier in the Andes, he saw God in a new way. He saw the God that we must all become acquainted with in one way or the other. The God who is more concerned with our character than our comfort.

Let me give you the backdrop. This plane was coming from South Africa headed to a game in Chile with a rugby team and some other passengers. There were forty-three persons on board. The co-pilot warned the chief pilot not to fly in the storm. They were above the storm clouds at first and were just 20 minutes from landing, but the pilot did not listen. Warning comes before destruction. He went below the clouds, and the rest is history.

This rugby team was portrayed as fun-loving, playful young men who were naïve and girl-hungry like most young men today. They were running around tossing things to each other while smiling. They were totally unsuspecting of the horrors they would face in just minutes and for days. Next thing they knew, the right wing of the plane ran into a mountain and was broken off. This resulted also in the tail of the plan coming off taking passengers along with it. A few other passengers on the first half of the plane were sucked off and plunged to their death while seat-belted to their seats by the force and gravity as they were thousands of feet above ground. The passengers who were still on board just waited for the inevitable crash. Fortunately, the first half of the plane did not nose-dive, but rather it slid down a snowy slope that eventually landed on a sturdy glacier. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of their horrors.

The injuries sustained from the crash killed some people immediately and left others in agony longing for death to alleviate their pains. Others died from hypothermia, frost-bite, gangrene, starvation, and despair. And just when they thought it could get no worse, they had to unwillingly resolve to eating the frozen flesh of their friends’ carcasses to survive. But when it rains it pours. An avalanche was unleashed and headed their way. And because the opening of their plane was facing the avalanches direction, they lost more people who suffocated in the snow. One man lost his mind and a few came close to it because of the utter despair of the situation. To make matters worse, they saw two planes fly overhead without seeing them. To make matters worse, they had to cope with the news that the search parties had been called off. Everyone had given up hope for them. All hope seemed to be lost.

But God.

Remember the God the man in the beginning of the movie said he met in the Andes? That’s the same God you and I will be forced to meet some day if we haven’t already. This God will be the God who seems to let negative circumstances snowball on you when you LEAST need it. First, the snowstorm. Then the plane crash. Then the loss of friends and family. Then the freezing temperatures. Then the first plane misses you. Then more loss of friends. Then the starvation. Then the more loss of friends. Then the second plane misses you. Then the hopelessness and despair. Then you hear the search party is called off. Then you have to eat the friends you just lost. Then the avalanche hits. Can it get any worse? Why God?

But just know that God is sovereign. You don’t think God knew they were 20 minutes from landing? You don’t think God didn’t know they didn’t have enough food on the plane? You don’t think God didn’t know they were not adequately clothed to endure the freezing temperatures? You don’t think God didn’t know that the avalanche was coming? God was sovereign over every event. He could have prevented any one of the factors of the Andes plane crash had He seen fit. But He allowed it. He allowed 29 people to do horrible deaths. And He allowed 16 people to live. Why just those 16?

Sounds like survival of the fittest to me.

Those 16 people lived to tell the story. They lived to tell people about the God they met in the Andes. They lived to tell people that it was possible to live 71 torturous days in freezing temperatures without food or hope. And who knows how much longer they could have lived out there.

I believe that the God of the Andes lets us endure similar situations for the same reasons. He puts us through difficult circumstances because we are proof of survival of the fittest. We prove to others that it is possible to go through a sucky ordeal for a long time and yet still be a survivor. You might not have had been through something as traumatic, but you’ve been through your own private hell. You’ve gone to hell and back. Why didn’t God just leave you there? Because He needed your testimony. Rather, He knew of some people who needed it.

But He also wanted you to learn something about yourself. Doubtless, NONE of these 16 men thought they could survive a plane crash, let alone freezing, let alone starving, let alone an avalanche, let alone for 71 days! God knows what you can bear. He knows just how much you can bear. Who knows? These men might could have survived for 100 days in the plane wreckage. But 71 days sufficed. As for these 16 men, I bet there is NOTHING these men think they can’t do, endure, survive, or handle. They must feel invincible with God! I’m sure they are fearless men who have gone on to accomplish much. God will let you go through hell and back just to prove to you against your own doubts that you are stronger in God than you ever gave yourself credit for.

God knows you can handle more than you think you can’t handle. So just when you think God ought to stop with the trials, God knows how much further He can go. You wanted to stop at first grade, but God knows that what He put in you can take you all the way to a doctoral degree. He’s more concerned with your character than your comfort. He’s more concerned with you knowing that other side of God than you being content with knowing the Santa Claus version of God who fits into your cookie-cutter mold. You either have gone through, are currently going through, or will go through. But you are strong. You will survive. You can endure more than you think can for LONGER than you think you can. If God puts you to it, He must have known you could do it.

God Doesn’t USE the Man Until He PROVES the Man

take up your cross 002I’m not mad it happened. I’m just glad it’s over.

After suffering for about 20 years with a “crippling” anxiety disorder, I can finally see the breaking of day. And I thank God not because I had to go through it, but because it’s over. You see, some people get mad at God for allowing bad things to happen in their lives. They get bitter, resentful, negative, pessimistic, and other related things because their life did not go as they would have planned. But God’s spirit of wisdom has allowed me to understand that some of those most unpleasant, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and embarrassing situations are the ones that process us into who God not only WANTS, but NEEDS us to be in order to do mighty exploits.

If you’re like me, you’ve wondered why some of our favorite bible persons had to go through such inconveniences and struggles. We wonder why Noah had to be embarrassed and ridiculed all those years while he preached while building the ark when God knew the people would never believe him until it was too late. We wonder why Moses had to be stuck with those hardhearted and hardheaded millions of Israelites in the wilderness. We wonder why Joseph had to be born into a family of hating brothers, sold into Egyptian slavery, lied on, and imprisoned. We wonder why Abraham and Sarah had to wait for decades to have a child together only for God to ask Abraham to sacrifice the boy’s life. We wonder why David had to go through years of being hated and hunted by the king he loved and respected. We wonder why so many people had to go through to get to where they were going. We wonder why the space between A and B contained so many struggles and trials. We thought that if you were serving God and bringing about His will and purposes that everything just ought to flow right from A to Z. After all, it doesn’t make sense that someone who has given their life to Christ has to endure weeks of chemotherapy while preaching the gospel. It doesn’t add up that a missionary has a child addicted to crack cocaine. It just doesn’t seem fair that the first lady can’t have children. It doesn’t seem reasonable that while a man is burdened with trying to supply food for a soup kitchen that he struggles with moderate depression and severe anxiety. It just seems that God ought to make life easy for those He “employs” into the ministry.

But for some reason, life just doesn’t work out that way, does it? It seems to me that God doesn’t use a man unless He proves the man. It kind of reminds me of the emotionally disturbed children I used to work with. Some of them had issues with attaching to others because they had been hurt so many times by people in the past. So when you try to love them, they put you through many tests to see if you are worth them opening up to. If you give up too soon (or give up at all for that matter), that serves to them as proof that you weren’t trustworthy in the first place. So they remain shut off to you and see who else will try to get close to them. And they test EVERYONE. They feel as if they can’t afford to be hurt anymore. They feel that they cannot afford to put trust into another untrustworthy person.

And these emotionally disturbed children are somewhat right about something. If you can’t love them through their tests, you likely don’t have what it takes to be trustworthy for the duration of the relationship. Some of the kids I worked with would curse me out, fight me, bite me, stab me, etc., but I would still pray with them, take care of them, and love on them. I realize that trust is a thing that must be earned – especially from persons who have been let down so many times past.

And who has been let down more times than God? Who has given the world a chance only to see most of the world reject His love? While we all know that God is whole and not emotionally disturbed, we know that He has been betrayed and let down by so many people since the very beginning of time. He was let down by Adam, Eve, Cain, David, Samson, Saul, Peter, Judas Iscariot – the list goes on and on. So many Israelites, priests, and kings of Judah and Israel have let God down. So it makes sense that He puts people through hard tests just to see who will persevere in order to show that they really love Him. It’s fairly easy to praise and worship God when all is well. But what about when you’ve just lost a loved one, lost your job/car/home/marriage, have your body racked with pain, experience mental instability, etc.? God does not test our love, reliability, trustworthiness, etc. based on how we feel about Him when life is peachy. But rather, He feels and KNOWS He can trust us when we come into church after finding out our husband is leaving and yet we praise Him. He knows He can trust us when all our money is gone a week before payday and yet we worship Him. The way God sees it is, “Man! If this man is praising me at His lowest point in life, I know He’ll still see fit to praise me when I bless and elevate him!”

So how do you treat God when you’re “going through”? Do you complain like the Israelites in the wilderness? Or do you praise God like Job when he lost everything? God can’t use you until He proves you. God’s time is very limited. He really can’t afford to waste any more time on lost cause Christians. In other words, God can’t waste another dime on a man or woman who marry Him for the “money” and then leave as soon as times get hard. God will only know if you truly love Him when you express your love when combated with test after test after test. The same person who is willing to go through all those tests just to get to God, is the same person who deserves to experience all of the blessings of God!

I’ll be honest, if I had life to do over, I probably would have opted out of the anxiety disorder. But I realize that God used it to prove me so now I’m just waiting on Him to use me.